Keto and Carbs: Does Vanilla Extract Have Sugar?

Keto and Carbs: Does Vanilla Extract Have Sugar?

Low-carb diets come with a couple of dos and don’ts, you may have to say bye-bye to your favorite foods, or you may be lucky enough to have most of what you like as keto foods. But the best part about the keto diet is if you can’t have it, there’s a healthier alternative for it, so don’t fret!

General nutrition advice is to avoid excess sugar intake because it can increase insulin resistance a risk factor for diabetes type 2 and other metabolic syndromes. So, if we can’t have sugar on keto, what alternative do we have? Sweeteners contain sugar, so are we waving bye-bye to them too?

One of your favorite sweeteners, vanilla extract is on the hot seat today. Does vanilla extract have sugar? We will have an answer to this by the end of this article. In addition, you will have known its nutrition facts, types of sugar in it, and the benefits of consuming vanilla extract.

Keto and Carbs

Before looking into the vanilla extract, its net carbs, and whether or not it is keto, let’s do a little recap of how many carbs you can consume on a keto diet. The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet, where carb intake is restricted to 20 g- 50 g per day.

Carb intake is limited to very low amounts so that the ketogenic diet can trigger weight loss and other benefits through ketosis. Excess glucose, from high sugar intake (sugar is carbs), inhibits ketosis, slowing down the breakdown of fat in storage.

Shifting our focus to sugar and sweeteners, because vanilla extract falls under this category, you cannot consume sugar, honey, maple syrup, and sweets on low-carb diets because they are high in carbs. However, there are low-carb sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit that won’t spike your sugars allowed on keto.

We’ve not ruled out vanilla extract just yet, let’s find out how many carbs are in it and whether it can be considered keto. Let’s answer does vanilla extract have sugar?

What is Vanilla Extract?

drying, vanilla beans, mauritius

Do you know where your vanilla extract comes from? Pure vanilla extract comes from the vanilla orchid plant and is extracted from the vanilla bean. The vanilla bean grows in pods on the vanilla plant. This is where the name “vanilla plant” came from since vanilla translates to “little pods” in Spanish.

Another interesting fact is vanilla beans, though, in one pod, each has flavors and aromas unique to them. The extraction process entails blanching, fermenting, and conditioning vanilla beans and then later soaked in ethanol and water. Natural vanilla extract is a dark brown liquid, with the clear alternative mostly being the artificial kind.

Vanilla extract is used as a flavoring in baking. Its sweet and creamy flavors make it the perfect match for baked products. You can also enjoy a cup of vanilla tea or coffee, made by blending tea leaves or coffee beans with a dash of natural vanilla extract, for richer flavors.

Vanilla Extract Nutrition Facts

Understanding what vanilla extract contains will let you in on its nutritional value and will tell you the daily value of nutrients. Daily value refers to how much a nutrient in a food serving size adds to your daily diet. According to USDA, one teaspoon of pure vanilla extract contains:

  • Energy: 12.1 kcal
  • Protein: 0.003 g
  • Total fats: 0.003 g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 0 g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0 g
  • Saturated fat: 0 g
  • Trans fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Total carbs: 0.529 g
  • Dietary fiber: 0 g
  • Net carbohydrates: 0.529 g
  • Calcium: 0.462 g
  • Zinc: 0.005 g
  • Potassium: 6.22 mg
  • Vitamin C: 0 mg
  • Vitamin D: 0 IU
  • Vitamin E: 0 mg
  • Alcohol: 1.44 g

From these numbers, you can see that vanilla extract is low in net carbohydrates, protein, and fats in one teaspoon serving size.

Does Vanilla Extract Have Sugar?

Yes, the vanilla extract contains sugar because it contains carbohydrates. A typical serving of vanilla extract that you usually use to flavor your baked goods is one to two teaspoons. The small amounts of net carbs in such a serving size are what makes vanilla extract keto-friendly.

The glycemic index of pure vanilla extract is 5 and the glycemic load is 3.3 which means it does not spike your sugars fast and not by a big difference.

Pure vanilla extract is vanilla extract costs $1 to $3 per ounce, due to its labor-intensive extraction process. It is among the top 3 most expensive spices, after cardamon and saffron.

Since this is too costly for most people, manufacturers have come up with synthetic vanilla extract from coal tar and wood pulp, to be the cheaper alternative to pure vanilla extract. This substitute is high in added sugar, which makes it unfavorable for low-carb diets.

Does Vanilla Extract Have Sugar or Carbs?

vanilla, food, organic

Vanilla extract contains low amounts of sugar. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate, so it also contains carbs. There are four types of carbohydrates, that is sugar, starch, dietary fiber, and sugar alcohols. Vanilla extract does not contain fiber, but it does contain sugars.

Is There Any Sugar in Vanilla Extracts?

Pure vanilla extract does not contain any added sugar or preservatives which could increase its carb count. The sweet flavors in it come from a compound called vanillin. Vanillin is what brings about the sweetness in vanilla beans.

Nowadays, manufacturers make synthetic vanillin to add to artificial vanilla extract used for flavoring. These varieties of our sugary extract also contain sugar from corn syrup for extra flavors. Artificial vanilla extract is not a keto vanilla extract.

What Are the Health Benefits of Natural Vanilla Extract?

Despite making your food taste and smell divine, several benefits come with consuming natural vanilla.

Contains Vanillin

The research into vanillin phenolic compound is due to its many health benefits that cannot be ignored. Vanillin has been shown to have antioxidant properties, preventing inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. This helps reduce chronic and inflammatory diseases.

It has also been shown to reduce symptoms and progression of some cancers like colorectal cancer and hepatic carcinoma. Consumption of vanillin is also good for promoting brain health and preventing neurodegenerative diseases.

Keeps You Calm

A study done to investigate the effects of vanilla aroma and breastmilk on preterm neonates resulted in a reduction in sleep apnea in babies exposed to the vanilla aroma. It was concluded that vanilla extract is an effective method of reducing sleep apnea in neonates.

How do you feel after consuming a hot cup of vanilla tea or lighting a vanilla-scented candle? The antioxidants in it reduce anxiety giving you that calming effect you have come to love.

Reduces Carb Cravings

Vanilla extract contains few calories and carbs which can help manage carb intake. A study investigating aroma-taste interaction in different individuals showed that vanilla aroma was effective in sugar reduction.

Another study in children to investigate taste-odor-texture interactions as a strategy to reduce sugar intake showed that adding vanilla extract to milk desserts led to an increased preference for less sugary foods.


Next time you are visiting friends, count how many of them have a bottle of natural vanilla extract! This is because so many recipes call for using vanilla extract. Here are ways you can incorporate natural vanilla into your keto recipes.

The type of vanilla extract we are using in keto is pure vanilla extract, with no added sugar.

  • You can use it as a sweetener for smoothies, low-carb baked foods, dark chocolate, and beverages.
  • Add it to your cup of black coffee, Espresso, or Americano coffee in place of sugar.
  • It can be the additional burst of flavors your Greek yogurt needs.
  • A vanilla flavor green smoothie doesn’t sound bad, now does it?

Bottom Line

Pure vanilla extract is keto-friendly because it is low in carbs. Avoid artificial varieties that are high in sugar and contain synthetic vanillin reducing the nutritional value of most foods. Incorporate this natural spice into baking to reduce your sugar intake, while enjoying a richer flavor in your recipes.

How do you use vanilla extract in your cooking? Which brand or variety do you use? Let me know in the comments below!



Write a comment